NEWS | March 29, 2019

Gen. Holland: One of only 19 female generals in U.S. Army

By Airman 1st Class Helena Owens Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

In the United States, there are 980 males to every 1,000 females. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American women hold almost 52 percent of all management and professional-level jobs. But they lag substantially behind men in terms of their representation in leadership positions. However, for one female U.S. Army general, that isn’t the case.

Brig. Gen. Diana Holland, South Atlantic District commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, started her career back in 1990, when she graduated from the United States Military Academy as a second lieutenant.

“I was six years old when I told my dad I wanted to be a Marine,” said Holland. “He had been a Marine, as was my grandfather during World War II. So I think hearing those stories and the patriotic family in our household pointed me in the military direction.”

In 1976, the first females were admitted into the service academies. At this time, Holland said she started really setting her sights on joining the military. She decided she wanted to go to West Point, which prompted her decision to join the Army instead of becoming a Marine.

“I entered West Point in 1986,” said Holland. “West Point was known for its lineage and history, as well as had a reputation to be the toughest service academy. They produce Army officers, so here I am. I loved getting to experience the military, the teamwork and the sense of higher purpose.”

The first female generals in U.S. history were nominated for promotion in 1970 by then-president Richard M. Nixon. Nearly 50 years later, of 976 currently serving generals in the U.S. military, only 69 are female. And Holland is one of only 19 currently serving female generals in the Army, making Holland’s accomplishments that much more significant.

The history of women in the military dates back to 1948 when women were officially allowed to join. Now every job, even combat ones, are available to women.

“If you do your job, show that you add value and you are good to people, then it doesn’t matter who or what you are,” said Holland. “Be confident and don’t underestimate your ability to be a leader—even in a predominantly male organization.”

Reflecting back on career, Holland explained how the Army gave her a lot of responsibility early on. She was a recent college graduate suddenly put in charge and responsible for lives, weapons, families and mission of 30 Soldiers.

 “I was thrown right into it with nothing but school to go off of,” said Holland. “But I loved the team aspect of it. You’re never alone.”

Holland has been in the Army for almost 29 years.  Her assignments have included: Deputy Commanding General for Support, 10th Mountain Division; Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan; executive officer to the Director of the Army Staff at the Pentagon; commander of the 130th Engineer Brigade at Schofield Barracks; and Joint Task Force Sapper in Afghanistan.

“My experiences have made me flexible and adaptable,” said Holland. “Conceptually, they are all the same. You build a team, relationships and resources, set priorities and become a cheerleader for your people. No matter where you go, these are the proven steps to be true as a leader.”

According to Holland, every day is an adventure and she is thankful for the opportunities she has been given and the accomplishments she has achieved.

“I feel like I’m living someone else’s life,” she said. “I never expected to be a general officer. It’s an honor and a privilege and I’m grateful every day.”